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Folu Oyefeso

Mapo Hall, Ibadan - One of Nigeria's oldest buildings

Ibadan is an ancient city with lots of remnants from the colonial era. I always knew this, but it hits different when you are actually standing on floors that were laid almost a century ago. Mapo Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Nigeria. It was commissioned in 1929 and is Ibadan's official town hall, so it's quite a significant landmark.

My friend was visiting Ibadan and wanted see some attractions and luckily, I hadn't been to this one yet. The trip to the hall is quite straightforward with google maps, however the surrounding area (Mapo hill/Beere) is a crowded market and the road isn't the greatest.

Colonial buildings of Nigeria - Mapo Hall, Ibadan
External view of Mapo Hall

Even though you can see Mapo hall from many points in the city, you can't grasp the scale until you are standing on the 5,969 acres of land that it's built on. We met the people who were in charge and they were quite reasonable; a little bit of haggling and we paid a fair ₦3,000 between us both.

One of them offered to be our tour guide but from the jump it was clear that this aspect could be improved upon. The place we were visiting was almost 100 years old, but the tour didn't do justice. The structure itself is quite impressive however; the massive concrete pillars were built to withstand the weight of the structure (a lot of which is stone). Everywhere you looked was symmetrical, functional and solidly built, with little to no effort in the ornamental side of things. The grand structure took over 4 years to complete (1925 - 1929) and cost £24,000 (around $4,000,000 in today's purchasing power).

External hallway at Mapo Hall, Ibadan showing rows of concrete pillars
External hallway at Mapo Hall

Architecture of Mapo Hall - Notice the simple design and focus on symmetry and functionality
One of the doors - Notice the simple design and focus on symmetry and functionality

The inside is what you'd expect from a typical town hall, it serves it's function. I found the roof very interesting because of the color, the lines and patterns. It feels good to note that apart from the dust, everything is in decent shape. It was renovated in 2006 amidst some controversy so you click here for the tea.

One of the oldest buildings in Nigeria
Interior view of the hall

The roof was the feather in the cap for me on this visit. It features a wide terrace that circumvents the structure, and as you can expect, a magnificent view of the city. The classic red roofs that Ibadan is known for stretch for miles, and I was in the center of it all, privileged to see it all aging with grace.

Red roofs of Ibadan
Red roofs of Ibadan

View from the rooftop of Mapo Hall
My friend "posing" on the rooftop

We soaked it all in and naturally, took some stunning photographs. The reds, the greens, the blue, the sprinkle of colonialism from the pillars all come together to paint a beautiful mosaic. One can even say the composition of these elements are an allegory of our identity as Nigerians - a blend of colorful people. I begun to notice how Mapo Hall being known as a symbol of love, strength and unity fit quite nicely.

As I drove away, the thought that you could find beauty in anything, especially something as bleak as colonialism was further cemented. If you are ever in Ibadan, make sure to visit Mapo hall because it's not just a building, it's a reminder of how far we've come as Nigerians.

Make sure to share this to 3 people who need to see Mapo Hall!

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